Judaism is a religion of love but also a religion of justice, for without justice, love corrupts.
Culture is not nature. There are causes in nature, but only in culture are there meanings.
Blind obedience is not a virtue in Judaism. God wants us to understand the laws He has commanded us
Israel shows the world that a people does not have to be large in order to be great.
When someone exercises power over us, they diminish us; when someone teaches us, they help us grow.
Ours is a small and intensely vulnerable people. Inspired, we rise to greatness. Uninspired, we fall
The negotiation between Moses and the tribes of Reuven and Gad is a model of conflict resolution.
God’s “name” is therefore His standing in the world. Do people acknowledge Him, respect Him, honor Him?
The very act of learning in rabbinic Judaism is conceived as active debate, a kind of gladiatorial contest of the mind.
In Judaism, to be without questions is a sign not of faith, but of lack of depth.
You perpetuate a transformative event by turning it into a ritual.
There is much in this episode that is hard to understand, much that has to do with the concept of holiness and the powerful energies it released that, like nuclear power today, could be deadly dangerous if not properly used. But there is also a more human story about two approaches to leadership that still resonates with us today.
Nasi is the generic word for a leader: a ruler, king, judge, elder, or prince. Usually it refers to the holder of political power.
The account of the construction of the Tabernacle in Vayakhel-Pekudei is built around the number seven.
Vayakhel is Moses’ response to the wild abandon of the crowd that gathered around Aaron and made the golden calf.
Sometimes, despite your best efforts, you fail. Such is life.
In Judaism, monarchy had little or no religious function.
So long as every crisis was dealt with by Moses and miracles, the Israelite default response was complaint.
Two laws have to do with the Israelites’ experience of being an oppressed minority:
Only in Judaism was God’s self-disclosure not to an individual or a group (the elders) but to an entire nation.
A fundamental principle of leadership is being taught here.
Moses did not speak about today or tomorrow. He spoke about the distant future.
We sense the pressure Moses is under.
six heroines, six courageous women without whom there would not have been a Moses.
It is not difficult to understand the care Joseph took to ensure that Jacob would bless the firstborn first.